Business Insider

With the launch of the new iPhone XS Max, Apple is taking on Samsung's Galaxy Note 9.

The new extra-large iPhone has a big, beautiful OLED display, impressive battery life, and a high-end camera — much like the Note 9, which was introduced last month.

In South Africa, the iPhone Xs Max will set you back R24,000, compared to the Samsung Note 9 which costs R18,999.

The two devices bear so many of the same features that they're neck and neck for the title of best smartphone on the market.

Here's how the iPhone XS Max compares with the Galaxy Note 9:

There are a few ways the iPhone XS Max beats the Galaxy Note 9. For one, the XS Max comes in three colours, while the Note 9 comes in only two.


The iPhone XS Max comes in gold, space grey, and silver.

The Galaxy Note 9 comes in two colours — ocean blue and lavender purple — though they're arguably a bit more fun than the iPhone XS Max's colours.

The iPhone XS Max runs iOS 12, the latest version of Apple's smartphone operating system.

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Out of the box, the iPhone XS Max will run iOS 12, the latest version of Apple's smartphone operating system. The new OS has grouped messaging, tools to limit your screen time, personalised animated avatars called Memoji, and a new feature called Siri Shortcuts.

The Galaxy Note 9, on the other hand, runs Android 8.1 Oreo, which is already one generation old.

In a lot of ways, the two phones are identical. They have the same-size display — almost.

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The displays on both the iPhone XS Max and the Galaxy Note 9 are among the biggest you can buy, and they're almost identical in size. The iPhone XS Max wins by a hair — its display is 6.5 inches (16.5cm), while the Galaxy Note 9's is 6.4 inches.

The phones weigh about the same too, though the iPhone XS Max is a tiny bit heavier.

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The iPhone XS Max weighs 200g, while the Galaxy Note 9 weighs slightly less.

Both phones come with up to half a terabyte of storage.

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The iPhone XS comes with more storage options, but both phones offer up to 512 GB of space. The Galaxy Note 9, however, does one better: It offers expandable storage of up to 512 GB, meaning your phone could have up to 1 TB of total capacity if you get a card with 512 GB of storage.

Both phones have top-of-the-line cameras.


Both the Galaxy Note 9 and the iPhone XS Max have incredible, high-end cameras. Here are some of the specs they have in common:

  • Dual 12 megapixel wide-angle and telephoto lenses.
  • 2X optical zoom and 10X digital zoom.
  • Portrait mode.
  • Customisable augmented-reality emoji.

Both phones also have a front-facing camera that can take portrait-mode selfies and contain sensors for unlocking your phone with your face.

Both phones contain smart assistants to help with search queries, timers, messages, and more.

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Both the Galaxy Note 9 and the iPhone XS Max have built-in smart assistants: Bixby and Siri. Neither smart assistant has reached the level of Google Assistant or Amazon's Alexa in terms of "smarts" or usefulness. Still, they're there if you want them — Bixby can be activated by pressing a button on the left side of the phone, while Siri can be activated by pressing and holding the power button.

The Galaxy Note 9 has a leg up on the iPhone in a few crucial ways, like its built-in stylus, the S Pen.

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As with other Note phones before it, the Galaxy Note 9 comes with a built-in stylus.

Called the S Pen, the stylus fits inside the phone and can be popped out at any time to take notes, draw, edit photos, or do more-complex tasks like book travel.

New this year is Bluetooth Low Energy, which allows the S Pen to be used as a remote for presentations or for taking photos.

The Galaxy Note 9 has a headphone jack.

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Unlike the iPhone XS Max, the Galaxy Note 9 sports a traditional headphone jack, so any older wired headphones will still work with the phone without requiring a dongle. 

The Galaxy Note 9 has slightly longer battery life than the iPhone XS Max.

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We haven't been able to put the phones' battery life to the test ourselves, but all signs point to the Galaxy Note 9 offering slightly better battery life than the iPhone XS Max.

The Note 9 has a 4,000-mAh battery, while the iPhone XS Max has a 3,179-mAh battery. Tests by the website Tom's Guide found that the Note 9 got 11 hours and 26 minutes of battery life, while the XS Max got 10 hours and 38 minutes.

Both phones offer wireless charging.

You can also use the Galaxy Note 9 as a desktop computer with Samsung DeX.

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One other way the Galaxy Note 9 beats the iPhone XS Max is Samsung DeX, a feature that allows the phone to be used as a desktop computer. The feature requires an HDMI cable to connect the phone with a monitor. Once connected, the phone will work as both the desktop operating system and a touchpad.

And finally, the Galaxy Note 9 is a better deal in South Africa 

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It costs some R5,000 less than the iPhone.